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Veterans Listing Non-Nuclear Family Member As Next of Kin

Last Updated: April 07, 2015.

A considerable number of veterans list an individual as next of kin who is not a nuclear family member, according to a research letter published in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, April 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A considerable number of veterans list an individual as next of kin who is not a nuclear family member, according to a research letter published in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Andrew B. Cohen, M.D., D.Phil., from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues asked patients receiving care at Veterans Health Administration facilities about their next of kin. Next-of-kin relationships were reviewed for 109,803 veterans who received care from 2003 to 2013.

The researchers found that for 92.9 percent of patients the next of kin was a nuclear family member. For 7.1 percent of patients, the next of kin listed was a person outside the patient's nuclear family; 2.9 percent of patients listed a more distant relative and 4.2 percent listed an individual who was not a blood or legal relative. This was most frequently a friend or intimate relationship outside marriage. For less than 1 percent of patients, the relationship involved another social tie, including landlady, priest, roommate, or sponsor.

"A substantial number of veterans in our sample had a next-of-kin relationship outside the nuclear family," the authors write. "If this finding is confirmed in other populations, states should consider adopting uniform default consent statutes, and these statutes should be broad and inclusive to reflect the evolving social ties in the United States."

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